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Sources and Effects of Electrical Charge Accumulation and Dissipation on Spacecraft

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1 Author(s)

The possible sources and effects of electric charge accumulation and dissipation on spacecraft are considered. Areas of insufficient and/or unreliable information are noted. It appears that a major source of charge buildup is the charging currents of the jet engines. Near the earth there may occur additional charging due to lightning, passage through the atmosphere and the particles contained therein. Discharge can take place by corona to charged clouds and to areas of high conductivity in the upper atmosphere. In space, residual charges will eventually be dissipated by the plasma of space with a resulting equilibrium potential of less than approximately 25 volts in magnitude. In general, the most important possibility for spacecraft malfunction is the effect of impulsive charging or discharge. The possibility of measuring and nullifying any accumulated charge on the spacecraft is discussed.

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Electromagnetic Compatibility, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:7 ,  Issue: 4 )